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Utah State professor to be honored with White House award

Jul 12, 2019, 6:17 AM

Utah State University, as seen from above. (Utah State University)

(Utah State University)

LOGAN, Utah (AP) — A Utah State University professor who studies factors that can hinder diverse students in engineering education is being honored by the White House.

Assistant Professor Idalis Villanueva will receive the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, which honors junior faculty doing innovative research.

A first-generation student from Aguadilla, Puerto Rico, Villanueva joined the Utah State faculty in 2013.

Utah State officials say she studies education in engineering, which has a relatively low student-retention rate. She specifically looks at how to spot and eliminate hidden academic rules and social cues that are understood by dominant social groups, but not necessarily clear to people from different backgrounds.

Villanueva is Utah State’s first honoree, and the only 2019 award recipient from the state. She will receive the award July 25 at a Washington, D.C., ceremony.

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Utah State professor to be honored with White House award